|Tuesday, September 09, 2003
|Judge: Dr. Cecil Byron Knox 'not performing at peak level' but capable of assisting his attorney
Pain specialist fit to assist in his defense, judge says
|One neurologist testified that he thought Knox suffered from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
By JEN McCAFFERY
THE ROANOKE TIMES
A federal judge ruled Monday that a Roanoke pain specialist is capable of assisting in his own defense against charges of illegally prescribing OxyContin, despite testimony from a neurologist that indicated otherwise.
Chief U.S. District Judge Samuel Wilson found that Dr. Cecil Byron Knox was "perhaps not performing at peak level" but nevertheless was fully oriented and capable of helping his attorney, Tony Anderson, in the case against him.
The argument that Knox was too depressed and lacking focus to assist in his own defense came on the first day of the federal trial of Knox and three of his associates.
Since Knox was charged with racketeering, fraud and allegations of prescribing OxyContin and other powerful narcotics for no legitimate medical purpose, he was diagnosed with lymphoma. He underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatment, he testified, and is now in remission.
Knox, 54, also testified that the medical charts he examined as part of preparing for his defense didn't at first even seem familiar to him.
Dr. Timothy Hormel, a neurologist at Lewis-Gale Medical Center, also testified that he thought Knox suffered from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Hormel also said he thought Knox often lacked the ability to focus and was not able to adequately assist in his defense.
Federal prosecutor Rusty Fitzgerald countered that Knox's symptoms were not surprising for a defendant facing the charges Knox is.
Jury selection also began in the case Monday and will continue today. The trial is expected to last at least six weeks.
Knox faces charges along with his office manager, Beverly Gale Boone, 44; and two other associates who worked in the same building as his practice, Southwest Virginia Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. They are Willard Newbill James, 58, of Roanoke and Kathleen O'Gee, 54, of Pulaski.
Boone also faces racketeering, fraud, and conspiracy charges, along with allegations that she assisted in the distribution of narcotics for no legitimate medical purpose. James and O'Gee also face fraud allegations and charges of participating with Knox and Boone in a kickback scheme for patient referrals.